Pets and Babies: The Inevitable Priority Shift

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Before you become a parent, your pets ARE your babies. But after, pets and babies always bring about a change in loyalties. How do you make room for both?

A recent blog post about pets and babies made me think to how I treat my pets now versus how I treated them before I had Owen. Before, my cat, Opie, slept with me every night. If I didn’t have his body curled up next to mine, purring away, it was difficult for me to fall asleep. Despite the fact that my cat “perforated” Jason on two separate occasions (he ran down he length of Jason’s body, claws extended, poking holes in him all the way down), I still insisted he sleep with us.

Now, the only time Opie is in our bed is if it’s past 6 am and he climbs in, meowing away, begging to be fed.

I don’t know what happened, but he doesn’t come into our bed anymore, and I don’t miss him one bit.

And when he comes our bed, asking to be fed, I usually just push him away, where I used to get up and feed him.

And then there is our dog, Cydewayz. Poor Cydez. He used to be the center of our universe. I walked him daily. Played with him. Petted him. Bathed him.

Now, he’s lucky to be walked once or twice a week. One day, in a harried rush to get out the door for work, I almost left him outside (not that it would be a terrible thing, he might have liked hanging outside instead of being cooped up indoors, although our neighbors might not have liked it.)

Cydez’s over-exuberant attitude that used to be so endearing to me, can now really annoy me when he starts shoving his snout in my face or under my hands as I’m trying to play with Owen. I still love him, just not with the fervor I used to.

And I feel guilty about all of this.

I keep thinking once Owen is a little older, he’ll be able to play with Cydewayz and Cydez will get all the attention he craves (which is A LOT, people). They’ll be best friends. And it will be great for everyone.

As for Opie, he’s old. I doubt him and Owen will be the best of friends any time soon. That’s OK. Maybe once Owen is off playing with Cydewayz, I’ll take some time out to pet Opie. Then some of this guilt can fade away.

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Before you become a parent, your pets ARE your babies. How do you make room for both?

Tela

A cofounder of Working Moms Against Guilt, Tela is a working mom with a son, O, who was born in July, 2006.

12 Comments

  1. Aww… they look so cute curled up on the floor. Well, at least they decided to stick around. Our cat said “the heck with it” and ran away by the time Jonah was 6-months old. I bet Owen will grow up to love his furry buddies.

  2. Our daughter Lily PRETENDS that she is the cats bestfriend, by sitting on him, picking him up by his head, hugging him TO DEATH, or making him dance with her (literally on two legs… oh he LOVES THAT) etc. I think sometimes that maybe he withstands it because he is STARVED FOR ATTENTION. He could probably take advise from Cara’s cat and run away too.

  3. What’s up with Justin and his tummy tickling pets? I think that might be spam-ola.

    Anyhow, thanks for bringing up the issue of yet ANOTHER source of guilt: pets! I try pretty hard not to feel guilty about my cats now living outdoors and my dog not getting the attention he deserves. After all, you gotta get your priorities straight. But it is important to show some love from time to time–to your pets, I mean–if for no other reason, than to teach your children about how to treat animals.

  4. What a great take on mommy guilt! I never considered that guilt could extend to our pets. My cats were indoor pets until the day we brought my daughter home from the hospital. I opened the door to bring her inside, the cats ran out, and I thought, “Screw it. I’ve got more important things to worry about now.”

    Just wait until your little one starts torturing the animals. How’s that for guilt?

    • This is disgusting. When you have another child are you going to let the first one run out the door? You should be teaching your children to respect animals, not allowing them to torture them. Excuse me while I go hug my dogs and remind them nothing will ever EVER make me abandon them.

      • I’m glad someone said this! I have one cat and I’m expecting a little baby in August. My cat is my world right now, and when this baby gets here she will still be my world, but so will my child. There is no way I would ever quit doing the things I do for/with her no matter what.

      • Totally agree with you. It is definitely harder to exercise and stimulate your pet after a baby is born but not impossible. I think it is wrong to justify it. This article makes me angry/sad.

  5. I just saw a WebMD news story about how most pet owners have given their pets Christmas gifts (among other tidbits–it was a survey). Thought you might find it interesting. I just got done stuffing the handmade stockings for Merc, Chet, and Miles– our dog and cats–with treats and goodies. It felt a little ridiculous, but there you have it. (Oh, I filled Jay’s and Cassie’s, too. Just in case you were wondering.)

  6. You SHOULD feel guilty. Those animals depend on you for love and comfort just as much as your children do. Sara, way to teach your child about compassion and animal abuse. You’ve got more important things to worry about than killing innocent creatures because you were bored with them?

  7. You and your children deserve to be neglected and abandoned, just the same way that you treated your pets that depended on you for their well-being! There is a special place in hell for people like you that would shun the unconditional love of the innocent creatures whose lives revolve around and depend on you.

    • Wow, Cynthia, I can only hope you are not teaching your children to hate other Human Beings the way that you do. She never said she neglected and abandoned her animals. She simply feels guilty that she doesn’t ha e the time and energy to spoil them the way she did before habing a baby.

  8. […] too long ago, I wrote about pet guilt. This was my own sense of guilt, entirely put on by me. Now that has changed. Recently, I’ve […]

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